I have spent the last several days thinking about 2006 and what I would like to see happen in 2007.
My preferred method for pondering is with a bag of sunflower seeds, a long drive ahead of me, and a football game on the radio. I tend to zone out and hone in on my thoughts.
As we traveled back home from Indiana, I bought two packs of sunflower seeds for $1, obtained an empty soft drink cup from the gas station to spit shells into, and then started thinking (dreaming …)
Goals for 2007
- Purchase a house that we love and would be happy living in for at least the next 15 years.
- Speak at 10 different locations about personal finances
- Have a book published
- 500 people through financial counseling at NewSpring Church
- 500 people through finance classes at NewSpring Church
- Run at least 600 miles
- Attend the graduations of my brother from Drexel University School of Medicine (Philadelphia, PA), my sister-in-law from Spring Arbor University (Spring Arbor, MI), and another sister-in-law from the GREAT Purdue University (my alma-mater in West Lafayette,IN!)
- Attend the wedding of my sister-in-law in Chicago, IL
- Plan a fly-in fishing trip to Canada for 2008
So those are some of the goals I have listed out. These goals will drive our financial decisions for 2007. Of course, Jenn has additional goals that will also help drive our financial decisions. Remember, we WORK TOGETHER on our finances! That is why we are doing well!
QUESTION: Do you have a written plan?
Happy New Year!
Well, it is time to roll on up to Indiana to celebrate Christmas!
Now, you may avoid getting together with your relatives for a family rebellion, but I personally LOVE to get together with my brothers, nephews, nieces, and parents. We usually eat large quantities of food, play lots of card games (Texas Hold'em is the most popular for now), go to Indy and hang out, and run back and forth between each others' houses.
All six of the brothers are going to be together this Christmas. This does not happen often enough!
So here it is, another Christmas is upon us. The 4th year in a row that Jenn and I bought all of our Christmas with cash we had saved up. We have ZERO debt, and we have bought some really cool gifts!
Looking for a New Year's Resolution? Try this one "Pay cash for 2007's Christmas presents!" I PROMISE you that you will never regret it!
I am continually amazed by the number of persons I meet who have nearly $1,000 a month in car payments, yet they do not give any money away. They just cannot seem to find a way to do it. They claim to really want to give, but when it comes time to cut the checks giving is not a part of it.
I disagree. I do not believe that they truly want to give or that it is last on the list of importance. If giving were truly important to them, they would be doing so!
Jenn and I love to give. I thought that in the spirit of Christmas, I would list the reasons that Jenn and I give money away.
1. It is what we are called to do. We are Christians who are attempting to be the best followers of Christ that we can possibly be. Christ gave His life for us. The least we can do is give some of our money to help others. As a result, we give at least 10% of our gross income to our local church. We give additional money to help missionaries who are dependent upon our financial gifts to be able to conduct ministry where they are.
2. We want to support causes that we deeply believe in. One way to do this is to provide financial support. We love Purdue University. Our education at that school impacted our lives forever! We want to ensure that this continues for students in the future. We love our home church, NewSpring. We want to ensure that this church is able to continue to impact the community and the world. We love helping others. If we see a need, it is awesome to be able to help financially without worrying about how in the world we are going to make it.
3. We live in the richest country on the planet so the least we could do is give some money away. Seriously, how terrible is it that we pout that we can't drive a Lexus when there are others on this same planet who do not have food to eat?
4. We want to leave a legacy and an excellent example for our children and our children's children. If we were to keep all of our money to ourselves, our child would learn that same behavior. Jenn and I want to inspire the "attitude of gratitude" in our daughter. Pay it forward. It is worth it!
5. We love being able to help. The Bible says that we are created in God's own image. He gave his only son for us. That means that God is a giver and since we are created in his image, we can't help but give. It is an AWESOME feeling to be able to give.
If you are not giving money away, you are missing out! It is truly better to give than to receive. Try it out! Start with $10! Anything! You will see immediately the truth of giving.
A lot of feedback rolled in from the last FAQ post! I thought I would answer a few more regularly asked questions.
Do you budget using a weekly budget or a monthly budget?
We budget using the monthly budget. Why? Because we have enough in our account to pay for the entire month's bills (Dave Ramsey's Baby Step #3 is "3 – 6 months of EXPENSES in a fully funded emergency fund". Since we can just sit down and pay all of the bills at one time, we use the monthly budget. I will tell you this. I was happy the day we achieved "3 – 6 months of expenses" in our emergency fund, but I was PUMPED to be able to pay all of the bills once per month.
Seriously, I was more happy about being able to pay all of our bills once per month than I was about achieving "3 – 6 months of expenses" in our emergency fund. It has made bill-paying a lot faster and easier. I don't have to balance which paycheck pays which bills and write out checks every single week.
For some people, it will probably be more motivating for you to save money just so you are be able to pay all of your bills in one sitting instead of every single stinking week!
When you and Jenn started budgeting, did you see any immediate savings?
ABSOLUTELY!!! We saved $200/month IMMEDIATELY the very 1st month in our Grocery fund BECAUSE WE USED THE CASH ENVELOPE! The great thing is that we have managed to continue to spend $200 less every single month on this same category for over 36 months!!! We also were able to reduce spending across the board by about another $200/month. Using this "found" money, we were able to achieve debt freedom in 14 months!
If you are just starting out, and are a little reluctant to have 13 cash envelopes in your pocket, try having TWO – Groceries & Dining Out. These are routinely the top two categories that blow up a budget.
How do I stick to my budget?
Wow! If I could answer this question and put it in a book, well, I would be very wealthy! I will tell you what helped Jenn and I stick to our budget – We were SICK AND TIRED of making good money and seeing it all leave every single month. We were SICK AND TIRED of not being able to pay cash for items that we should have been able to pay cash for. We (together) were willing to reduce our spending and give up a few things in order to achieve financial freedom.
As a result of our COMMITMENT TO EACH OTHER and our COMMITMENT TO FOLLOW THE BUDGET, we started winning.
I would also add that another key motivating factor for me was that we could budget some fun in the spending plan. Not a lot of fun, but some fun. As long as the budget equation was achieved (INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO), we were able to go on some small vacations and have some spending money. That was enough to keep me in line and on board.
Do you have more questions? E-mail them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will answer them over the coming weeks.
PS: Christmas is a lot more fun when you are paying cash for all of the presents and there is ZERO debt attached to them!
30: "A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones."
31: "He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."
As I help folks get their finances in order, I cast vision as to "how things could be" IF "they would just do this, this, and that." Many times this involves selling some stuff – cars, boats, motorcycles, houses! I want people to have nice stuff, but many times the nice stuff is eating up 50% of their budget OR MORE. Folks just will not win with expenses like that!
As I cast vision, it is not unusual for me to say, "If you sell the two cars and buy two used cars, you could be debt-free except for the house in 12 months. If you keep the cars, you may be debt-free in 60 months." Or I might say, "If you sell the boat and motorcycle, you could be debt-free immediately. If you keep the boat and motorcycle, you may be debt-free in 72 months."
When I mention selling some stuff, I begin encountering resistance! This is their stuff! They love their stuff! They bought this stuff, and they want to keep it! Even when it is eating them alive financially! Even when they are not able to give one thin dime and are not assisting others at all!
As I go through meetings like this, I see that God's word is true. Proverbs 14:30 says that "envy rots the bones". When people have a bad case of stuff-itis, it is usually a result of envy. They saw someone else with that item, and they wanted one too. The difference is that they could not afford it. The verse also says that "a heart at peace gives life to the body." When stuff-itis is cured, WOW! The peace is awesome! Knowing you could go to the store and buy anything in there, but not doing it because you really don't need anything. Wow! I am telling you it is AWESOME! Jenn and I have been vaccinated against stuff-itis, and it feels good!
Proverbs 14:31 says that "whoever is kind to the needy honors God." I guess that is why it pains me so deeply in my soul when I see people up to their eyeballs in debt with a bad case of stuff-itis. They are so loaded up with their own wants that they do not even see the the needy, let alone help them.
The solution? Get a vaccination against stuff-itis!